sci fi

sci fi

Monday, 30 July 2012

Burma Campaign Books



I found a virtually new hardback copy of this book on Kohima in the Oxfam bookshop in Tavistock on Saturday for the extortionate sum of £4.99. As it costs £30 or so new, I thought it was a bit of a bargain. It's a day by day breakdown of the siege with a minutely detailed and very well researched text. I also found a secondhand DVD copy of Burma Victory for £2.00, which will give me some ideas for IABSM2 as well.

Good stuff!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

AK47 Summer Spearhead [2]


Here's the first militia unit for the new Superpower Backed army of the Kingdom of Bagombo. It consists of four S/A bases, three RPG bases and a couple of Bedford lorries, together with a couple of casualty bases. The QRF Bedfords were a bit rough and ready, requiring quite a lot of sanding, cutting and bending to make them fit together, but they were fun to construct and look pretty cool.

There could be two more S/A bases but, as the figures were leftovers from my first AK47 army, that's all I could scrape together. There's an extra RPG base in case I get an upgrade in the poltical flowchart bit of the game but otherwise this lot adds up to a decent 72 points. If I get time, I'll put together the second militia unit tomorrow, which is a jeep and landrover equipped patrol.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

AK47 Summer Spearhead [1]



I completed a full AK47 Dictatorship army last year, starting over the summer holidays with a Summer Offensive to clean up and base the figures. This inevitably turned into an Autumn Assault and finally took up Winter Quarters before I wrapped it up in January this year. In my defence, I did stray off into a full on amphibious fleet and various bits of terrain, so it was no surprise that it lasted so long.

Anyway, this year I've decided to repeat the experiment with a new not so 'Super' power Backed army for AK47, using the old school Peter Pig 'professional' bush hat figures as a regular core alongside some kepi regular figures as militia, plus a professional element of bare headed SAS types. The force will be equipped with mostly British vehicles and AFV's including some lovely QRF Bedfords, Saladins and Ferrets.

So, here's the ToE, which is designed to cover all the political flow chart random bits and allow some flexibility when it comes to deploying the five core units. The Superpower backed army has to have at least two militia units and consequently, I need to build in at least two regular units, assuming that I have the single professional unit that I'm allowed in the army restrictions.

Militia Unit

4 S/A (plus maybe a couple more later on)
3 RPG (one spare one is included for political purposes)
2 Trucks

Militia Unit

2 Landrovers / Jeeps with HMG
1 Landrover with RCL

Regular Unit/s

8 S/A
4 RPG (LAWS)
2 RCL
4 HMG
4 Bulldog Carriers

Regular Unit

4 Mortar bases
2 Trucks

Regular Unit

2 Saladin A/C with gun
3 Ferret A/C with MG

Professional Unit

4 S/A
1 Truck
or
1 Transport Helo (Puma)

Professional Unit

1 Attack Helo (Gazelle)

There may also be a commander unit and a sniper unit or two, just because I have the figures and it would be a shame not to use them. I have a 1/100th scale diecast Gloster Meteor model for air support but this might be replaced with something less hefty if I can find a suitable plastic kit. I may even add some boats!

I'm hoping to start on this project tomorrow with one of the militia units or the professionals.


Dux Britanniarum

I've been putting this off but finally decided in a moment of weakness to pre-order a pdf copy of the new Toofatlardies Romano-British rules. It's not a period that I'm particularly familiar with but that's an advantage as it'll give me the excuse to do lots of background reading. If I decide to add this to my list of projects, it'll be way down the line as I already have lots of things half done that need my attention, including the SAGA Vikings, for example. It'll also be as small as I can possibly make it, as it won't be cheap to put together a 28mm army even if it's at a skirmish level. I suppose I could do it in 20mm or even 15mm, if I can find a good range of figures? Anyway, it'll be a good read for the holidays...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Bargain Books




I stopped off in Trago Mills yesterday as it's always worth a look in the book section for cheap and sometimes pretty unusual military titles. I found three interesting new hardbacks which together cost less than £15, so not bad at all. There were lots of other titles that I could have picked up but I managed to restrain myself. I'll be adding these to the reading pile for the holidays.

Pendennis Castle











We decided to visit Pendennis Castle in Falmouth yesterday for a change. I hadn't been there since the the early 80's and it's changed quite a lot, with the gun batteries on the headland restored and the garrison barracks renovated as a museum. I quite liked the old fashioned no frills approach to historical sites that English Heritage used to deliver but, in this day and age, I suppose they have to cater to a different audience.

There's an impresssive collection of ordnance along the ramparts and in the fort itself, including a 6'' gun on what would originally have been a disappearing mounting and two 6'' guns in the restored gun battery. The gun rooms in the keep of the fort were also well equipped, with the lower of the two decked out with reproduction cannon and crew, complete with sound effects and gun smoke.

There wasn't much on the Civil War siege, however, which I thought a bit of a shame, although I may have missed that bit as we ran short of time towards the end of the day. It's well worth a visit if you're down that way and the kids had a great time too, thanks to the entertainment laid on by a pirate themed activity that was very well put together.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Laser Cut Hex Terrain for Bag The Hun


I'm on holiday in Cornwall now but before I left, I shot off an email enquiry to Tony Barr at East  Riding Miniatures about an idea I thought up a while back. This was for a modular laser cut mdf hex tile system for miniature air gaming as an alternative, flexible alternative to the usual cloth or plastic hex mats.

The idea was to have a basic 30cmx 30cm or 8x8 hex sheet with 40mm hexes laser etched onto the surface. This would be designed to interlock with other sheets to form a playing area. The hex sheets would be stackable and easily stored.

In addition, there would be overlay mdf terrain tiles that could be placed on top of the playing surface to represent hills, ridges, towns etc. The sheets would be produced in unpainted mdf but could be painted up in whatever shades you wished including, for example, desert, temperate or winter finishes.

Neat, eh?

Tony, being a really nice chap, was quite keen on the idea but reckoned on a unit price of between £5 and £6.50 per tile. This would mean an outlay of at least £100 for a 6' x 4' playing area making the conventional hex mat a cheaper, if less readily available or flexible option.

Bugger.

Anyway, I still think it's a good idea, so will be trying to find a DIY solution over the next few weeks. This will possibly involve cutting lots of hexes out of sandpaper before sticking them down onto a surface of some sort, perhaps some of those ready made artist canvas frames or some good old fashioned cork tiles.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Summer Holiday Project [4] Luftwaffe North Africa


I was hoping that the extra bases I'd ordered from Raiden Miniatures would have arrived by now but, as they haven't, the last of my clean up and basing projects for the holidays will be twenty or so aircraft for the Germans in North Africa c1941. This will include six Ju87 Stukas, four Me110's and as many Me109E's as I can squeeze in to the limited supply of bases that I have. I've also packed a trio of Leading Edge Ju88's just in case.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Summer Holiday Project [3] Adventures in Jimland


The third of the projects for the holidays will be the Adventures in Jimland 18mm figures including the expedition leaders, the askaris, the soldiers, the porters and the cavemen. I've also got a couple of 28mm Copplestone dinosaurs that will look pretty good next to the figures and I've found some 28mm giant spiders that will be equally impressive in 18mm. If I can, I'll try to find some plastic dinosaurs and other things to supplement what I've got in metal, otherwise it'll be a pretty unadventurous expedition.

AK47 Air War Africa [2]


The Lumata-Zumata Combined Headquarters has provided a somewhat over-inflated communique on the respective capabilities of the ZAF and LAF. It would appear that the propaganda department of LZCHQ has been a little over generous in it's estimation of the relative strengths of the axis air forces, which have been revised by the Combined Regional African Peacekeeping (CRAP) observer mission in Wanga Wanga.

The Zumatan Air Force


The ZAF is equipped with a variety of cast off US and British aircraft. The fighter squadron is equipped with eight F80 Shooting Stars, while the ground attack squadron consists of four DH Hornet fighter bombers. The tactical bomber squadron has recently replaced it's aging fleet of B26 Martin Marauders with a flight of four A26 Invader light bomber aircraft.

The Zumatans also have a naval aviation wing, the Zumatan Fleet Air Arm or ZFAF, which consists of a squadron of six Douglas A1 Skyraiders, which are capable of anti-shipping strikes and ground attack support missions. There is also a single flight of four Cessna 150 floatplanes, which operate in a reconnaissance and light attack COIN role.

The Lumatan Air Fleet


The LAF is a soviet backed force, although much of it's equipment is probably of Chinese or North Korean origin. The LAF is divided into two Aviation Divisions. The elite Guards Aviation Division consists of a fighter squadron of six MiG 15 Fagot jets. The bomber squadron consists of four Tu14 Bison medium bombers, although these are often confused with the very similar Il-28 Beagle.

The second line First Aviation Division is tasked with close air support and ground attack missions. It consists of a squadron of six Yak 9 piston engine fighters and six Il-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft. These are obsolete but effective in their role and are retained by the LAF as more advanced aircraft are not available due to the UN arms embargo on Luamata-Zumata.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Summer Holiday Projects [2] Darkest Africa


I've decided to take my box of Darkest Africa native villager figures for the Nkonde army that I started to base up last year. I already have two units of spearmen and one unit of muskets based and assembled, all of sixteen figures each. This was a bit of a slog to put together but I'm half way there, so it woukd be a good opportunity to complete what I've started, ready for painting in the Autumn.


I now need to base up another unit of spearmen, a unit of warriors, a unit of bowmen and all the extra individual figures including the witchdoctor, chief and scout. There's a baggage element of four bases to be put together too. I'm still debating whether or not to use the figures I've already based as tribal allies for a British, French or German expedition, so I may take an extra box of figures along just in case

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

AK47 Air War Africa

One of the mini-projects I've been thinking about for quite a while now is a cross over between my AK47 armies and my Bag The MiG / MiG Alley project in 1/600th scale. The thinking behind this is to give me some playtesting experience with the Bag The MiG rules and to extend my AK47 games  into a simple mini air campaign.

I have the Tumbling Dice aircraft that I need already having originally intended to use them for a 1967 Six Day War set up, so it won't result in any extra outlay. The idea will be to paint up three or even four small air forces for the different African countries that have or will feature in my version of AK47 Africa. The forces will be equipped with aircraft from different backers - Soviet, French, British and US.

The aircraft will be limited to a pre-1955 technological timeframe, which means that even first generation air to air missiles will be very unlikely, keeping the games simple and the action up close. The emphasis will be on air to air dogfighting, escorted bombing raids and ground attack, with each force equipped to carry out a similar range of scenarios.

The Peoples Democratic Republic of Mbote


The air force of the PDRM dictatorship is equipped with soviet supplied aircraft and is one of the more powerful, if less well trained and experienced forces in the region. The core of the Mbote Air Defence Force or MADF is a fleet of six Il28 Beagle medium bombers. These are escorted into action by a squadron of eight MiG 17 Fresco fighters, which also deploy in the role of ground attack fighter bombers.

The Indepedent Republic of Nbuto


The colonial settlers of the IRN are equipped with French aircraft and, while a relatively small force with less capable technology than some rival nations, they make up for it with the quality of their pilots and ground crew. The IRN is equipped with a bomber force of three Sud Aviation Vautour. These are used to deliver low level tactical strikes on enemy ground targets.

The CAP role is filled by four Dassault Mystere IV fighters, which have been aquired to replace six Dassault Ouragan that have until recently formed the core of the Nbuto air force. These are now being re-tasked as ground attack fighter bombers which will operate alongside an existing flight of four Fouga Magister COIN light attack aircraft.  

The Kingdom of Bagombo


The Royal Bagombo Air Force is supplied with British equipment, due to the close ties between the ex-colonial 'not so super' power and the royal family of King Mtosi III. The most advanced asset of the RBAF is a flight of three English Electric Canberra B2 bombers, capable of a range of strike missions. It is possible that these are crewed by foreign pilots but this has yet to be verified.

The fighter strength of the RBAF is composed of a flight of four newly acquired Hawker Hunter aircraft. These are capable aircraft and, as such, are used in the air defence role and for CAP over the border zone. The strike element of the Royal Bagombon Air Force is less advanced and is built around a flight of four DH Venom ground attack fighter bombers.

The Zumata - Lumata Axis of Evil


Not that I'm biased or anything.

Oh no.

Anyway, the Zumatan Air Force is equipped with predominantly US aircraft, although it's exact composition and capability is as yet unknown. There will probably be some Douglas A1 Skyraiders and Lockheed F80 Shooting Stars, as they've featured in the past but after that it's a question of what I've got in the spares box once the Bag The MiG set up is complete.

So, now what...

As you may have guessed, this is all fairly sketchy at the moment but I am thinking of taking my little box of 1/600th scale goodies off on holiday with me next week. It's a sideline to my existing projects but I think could be good fun, given that I'll have a licence to do whatever I fancy when it comes to camouflage, insignis and other what not.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Bag the Hun North Africa [10]



I added the Mid Stone camouflage to the Blenheims this evening, although things didn't quite go according to plan. I started off my mixing up a slightly different combination of shades than the ones I used on the Hurricanes, partly by accident and partly because it just didn't look right. I then fiddled around with the end result to try to bring it into line, which worked up to a point but still left them looking a little too pale.

The biggest problem was the ambient temperature which meant that my paint rapidly dried out and ended up being a little too thick in places, including all over the Martin Maryland which has gone to the big melting pot in the sky as a result. I guess it was doomed from the start and I couldn't be bothered to rescue it, so will have to get a replacement at some point in the future.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Summer Holiday Projects [1] AK47


I've been working out the permutations for the holiday 'clean up' projects that I shortlisted the other day. I've decided on a total of three boxes of things to take with me to Cornwall and Brittany, all of which are self contained and easily manageable if I get my act together.

First up is another AK47 army, this time a Superpower Backed force built around a selection of British vehicles and a core of old style Peter Pig bush hat figures. It's inspired by my mate Jon's army and by the fact that I have had the figures knocking about for far too long to be ignored.

The bush hat chaps are supposedly 'professonals' but in my army will be regular troops, transported around in Bulldog anti-mine trucks. They'll be supported by an armoured car unit of Saladins and Ferrets, which crop up in the political flow chart as reinforcements, and a stand alone regular mortar unit of four bases. I might even paint this lot up as British, complete with appropriate tactical signs on he vehicles.

The two militia units will consist of small armed kepi wearing figures with Bedford trucks as transport, plus a landrover equipped patrol representing a game warden type unit only with machine guns and recoilless rifles. I'll also have a heliborne professional unit of bare headed SAS types with a rather nice plastic kit of a Heller Puma to fly about in. I'll only have four bases but they'll do the job.

How much of this actually gets cleaned up and based is anyone's guess and I may take a fourth box of something along as well, just in case. It's a shame I can't do any painting really as that would be an even more productive use of the time, especially if I could tackle one of my previous projects like the 1/600th scale Bag the MiG collection.

The other two projects will be sorted later!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Farnborough 2012


We had a great day at the Farnborough Air Show but, as it's now pretty late, I'll post some photos tomorrow. In the interim, here's a preview, courtesy of the Battle of Britain flight Avro Lancaster EE139 Phantom of the Ruhr, which made a particularly well executed display flight alongside an immaculate Spitfire IX MJ250.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Bag the Hun North Africa [9]


I added the Mid Stone camouflage to the upper surfaces and fuselage of the Hurricanes this evening, using a combination of Foundry Boneyard Shade and Chestnut Light. It looks a bit garish at the moment but will be faded down later with a wash and drybrush to bring out the detail. I'm going to do the same with the bombers tomorrow and may even get onto the sky blue undersurfaces, if I have the time

Friday, 13 July 2012

More Books






I popped into the local Oxfam bookshop after work today, which is becoming a bit of a habit but  is well worth it as I continue to expand my reference library  to biblical proportions. The results of todays browsing were particularly satisfying and will more than satisfy my reading list for the immediate month or two.

I'm especially pleased with the excellent book on the  development of the P51 Mustang, given my current pre-occupation with all things aeronautical. The books are all in excellent condition and being hardbacks have that extra bit of mileage, which for an outlay of under £25 is well worth it. :O)


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Bag The Hun North Africa [8]



No painting tonight but I have pencil lined the 'A' scheme camouflage on the Hurricanes, ready for the Mid Stone shades to be applied over the weekend. I think this method will work quite well and shoudl save a fair bit of fiddly brushwork in the next stage of the process. I'd really like to clean up a few Tomahawks to add to set up but, with time at a premium, it's more important to concentrate on what I've already started rather than add extra things to do.

Holiday Projects 2012


In a little over a week from now we'll be off to Cornwall for a few days then over to France for the rest of August. As usual, I'll be taking something along to clean up and base, although any painting is off the radar due to the mother in laws upholstery. It's a great opportunity to get the tedious groundwork done for big projects although it doesn't always result in the a fully finished army, with one or two exceptions.

My latest effort is a good example, with the Darkest Africa Nkonde tribal villagers still incarcerated in their plastic box despite my best intentions to get them started. On the other hand, my AK47 dictatorship army did reach fruition and even ended up with a full on amphibious warfare capability including a submarine. It's a question of priorties really, which is why I have several possible options in mind for this years campaign.

So, in no particular order, here are the front runners for 2012:

1. 15mm War of the Roses Yorkists for Impetus

2. 15mm British / Japanese for I Aint Been Shot Mum 2

3. 28mm Darkest Africa Expedition (using the tribal villagers) for In The Heart of Africa

4. 18mm Dinosaur Hunting Expedition and Cavemen for Adventures in Jimland.

5. 28mm English Civil War Cornish Royalists for 1644 or Black Powder.

6. 15mm Egyptians or British for Patrols in the Sudan.

7. Yet more Bag The Hun aircraft for both Operation Bodenplatte and the Russian Front.

8. Another (aarrghh!) 15mm AK47 army.

All of these are:  a) easily transportable.

                          b) simple to clean up and base.

                         c) feasible in the time that I have to get them done.

                         d) not easy under the usual work / life regime.

I'll probably take a couple of things along with me so that I have a bit of choice and, possibly, get both of them done over the holidays. I have a fair bit of work to do as well, so it'll probably be a bit of a non-starter but it's worth a try.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bag the Hun North Africa [7]



I had a pretty busy day but did  mark out the camouflage pattern on the bombers using a pencil to demark the lines on the wings and fuselage. I haven't trying doing this before so we'll see how it works when I get round to painting in the Mid Stone shades tomorrow, if everything goes according to plan that is. I'm hoping that it will give more consistent results than my usual free hand approach.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Bag The Hun Bail Out!





I played a Bag The Hun 2  North Africa scenario against my ever victorious opponent Andy at the club this evening. This was a replay of the beginner Bandits scenario that we tried last year, this time with my Italian Fiat G50's against his RAF Hawker Hurricanes. It turned out to be an even bigger disaster for the Italians this time round, with three aircraft shot down and only one damaged Fiat off the table by the end of the game.

The phrase Catastrophic Structural Damage seemed to crop up quite a bit, along with Really Critical Hit, Fuel Line Damage, Pilot Wounded and Blackout. Not particularly good for the morale of the pilots of the Regia Aeronautica, to say the least.

In retrospect, it was fairly inevitable given the firepower and speed of the Hurricanes against the feeble armament of the G50's. It was also a bit unbalanced by the presence of an RAF Top Ace, who ran rings around the less experienced Italian section leader. However, there's no excuse for the poor flying skills of the losing side, even though I had premonitions of a doom based on previous experience with MC202's against Kittyhawks.

In the end, the Italians lost by 1 victory point to 7, which is pretty bad even for them. However, the Regia Aeronautica can at least claim the moral high ground having been strafed in their parachutes by the perfidious RAF! It was good fun, nonetheless, and helped me get a handle on the rules mechanisms once again. Next time, I'll reverse the set up to give the Italians a fighting chance or even move the action to later in the war, with FW190D9's against Spitfire XIV's or Tempests.

Monday, 9 July 2012

RAF North Africa [6]


I basecoated the aircraft this evening in my approximation of weathered RAF Dark Earth. This was a 50:50 wetbrush mixture of Foundry Rawhide Shade and Chestnut Shade, followed by a wash in GW Gryphon Sepia ink. I'm not sure it was worth it, as the end result looks almost identical to the finish on my Battle of Britain Hurricanes. I'm tempted to do a bit of drybrushing to lighten things up a bit but I'll try to resist the temptation and crack on with the Middle Stone camouflage.

RAF North Africa [5]



I didn't manage to get started on the North Africa RAF aircraft for Bag The Hun 2 last week but I'm hoping to find some time this week to move them in the right direction. I've also decided not to go for a Free French option, as I don't fancy painting all those Cross of Lorraine insignia freehand.

So, to make my life a lot easier, I've ordered a couple of the I-94 decal sets for North Africa, which include markings for both 274 and 185 squadron Hurricanes and the Blenheims of 14 Squadron. I also used the 15% discount in the Raiden Miniatures sale to soften the blow.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Corfe Castle


We have my brother in law staying at the moment so wargaming has been relegated to the periphery for a week or so. However, we did get a trip to Corfe Castle today which was very enjoyable, especially as it wasn't actually raining for a change. I've been several times before but it's always worth a visit. I didn't manage to wangle a detour to the Tank Museum on the way back though, despite the Battlegroup South show being on. As we have free entry to the museum, it seemed like a wasted opportunity to me but there's always next year I suppose?

Friday, 6 July 2012

Iron Cow Private Military Contractors [PMC]


I haven't had time to get any painting done over the last week or so due to a very busy time at work. However, I have been thinking about my existing projects and planning where to take them next. I'm waiting for the Brigade Models summer sale before I get any more Iron Cow things but, in the meantime, I've sketched out a third force for the East African conflict.

This is a PMC battlegroup, funded and equipped by ONESS and SAC to pacify and patrol the disputed territories in what used to be Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The force is built around German equipment, although making use of lighter AFV's like the Lynx and Thor, rather than the superheavy tanks of the ONESS German army. I've also cut down on the number of Tank and Infantry squadrons to one of each adding a Support Squadron, an Engineer CEV troop and an attached Logistics / Supply convoy of Thrall hover trucks to round things off.

It's not as powerful as the ONESS British battlegroup but I have been able to build in a wide variety of models from the German ONESS range, which is one of the nice things about it. I've drawn up a ToE for the battlegroup based partly on the Van Kliestmann chart in the rulebook but scaled down to reflect the lighter format of the force. I'm now thinking of a suitable name for it along the lines of Executive Outcomes.

It'll give the CDSU something to think about too?